First Published: 2016-10-21

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution
Matteo Renzi says 'incomprehensible' that UNESCO did not use Jewish name for holy site, does not address resolution's multiple mentions of Israeli violations.
Middle East Online

'Unacceptable'

ROME - Italy's Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, on Friday described a UNESCO resolution condemning Israel's actions in east Jerusalem as "incomprehensible and unacceptable" and said his officials should have voted against it.

Italy joined most of its European partners in abstaining on a vote which criticises the Jewish state for restricting access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in a way that Israel says denies Judaism's connection to the city.

"It is incomprehensible and unacceptable, it was a mistake," Renzi told Italian radio.

The premier said he had issued instructions to Italian diplomats to take a different stance if the same issue arises again in international bodies.

"Suggesting that Jerusalem and Judaism have no connection is like suggesting the sun causes darkness," he said. "If we have to break with European unity on the subject, so be it."

The executive board of UNESCO, the UN's cultural, scientific and educational arm, backed the controversial resolution on "occupied Palestine" on Tuesday.

Referring throughout to "the occupying power," it condemns Israel for restricting Muslims' access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound -- Islam's third holiest site -- and criticises damage by security forces to the site and nearby excavations.

Israel is furious that the resolution refers to the Jerusalem Old City site only by its Muslim name, Al-Aqsa or Al-Haram al-Sharif.

It is considered holy by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount and it is considered the holiest site in Judaism.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.

 

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Revolt in US State Department over child soldier law

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home

Rebels say Sanaa airport 'ready to run' after coalition bombing

Greece to amend historic sharia law for Muslim minority

Turkey to ask Germany to extradite top coup suspect

Car bomb in northern Iraq kills at least 24

Morocco bans bitcoin transactions

13 million Syrians need aid despite relative drop in violence

Sudan urged to improve plight of Darfur's displaced people

Brain drain means Syria can’t recover for a generation

Palestinians close communication lines with Americans

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number

German police arrest six Syrians ‘planning terror attack’

Palestinian factions in Cairo for reconciliation talks